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April 24, 2013

Francis boosts his stock at Adidas Exclusive Run

MORE: Hoop Group Pitt Jamfest

The first of two weekends in April where college coaches get to watch grassroots basketball tournaments are in the books. The Adidas Exclusive Run in Duncanville, Texas, and the Pangos Spring Spectacular in Las Vegas were among the stops on Rivals.com's docket.

One thing we certainly learned from the events is that Brandone Francis needs to be included in the next rankings update for the class of 2014.

Francis will be a four-star

Entering the weekend, 6-foot-5 shooting guard Brandone Francis had a name that was already ringing out with high major coaches and scouts. A junior from the Dominican Republic who plays his high school ball at Jacksonville (Fla.) Arlington Country Day, Francis was a considered a well-regarded, three-star prospect at the beginning of the Adidas Exclusive Run.

After a big weekend where he led his Florida Elite squad to a title and earned MVP honors, there's little doubt that Francis has earned a spot in the 2014 Rivals150, once it gets updated. In fact, it's a virtual lock that he will enter the rankings as a four-star prospect.

Francis has good size and a strong frame to go along with a well-developed skill set. He is efficient off the dribble, can pass and he can turn on the switch and score when necessary. His interest widespread from programs such as Miami, Kansas State, SMU, Illinois, South Carolina, Cincinnati, Rutgers, West Virginia, Washington and several more. After his performance this weekend, Francis added an offer from SEC powerhouse Florida.

Nasty is good for Zimmerman

If you look at all of the best big men in the country, somewhere in their description is the word "nasty," or at least something very similar to nasty. You just can't be a dominant big man without having some level of nastiness to your game. For his first few years in high school, Stephen Zimmerman's game was lacking some nasty.

Don't get us wrong, the near seven-footer from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman is plenty talented. The No. 2 player in the class of 2015, Zimmerman is a five-star prospect with a soft touch, good athleticism and lots of room to develop his game. Nobody would call him soft, but nobody would call him particularly physical through his first two years of high school ball.

It seems like all of that is changing now. Playing for Dream Vision at the Adidas event, Zimmerman still showed that high-skill level. But, he also started to show a little bit of that "nasty" people have been waiting to see.

Zimmerman traded bumps and elbows, did some staring down of opponents who couldn't stop him and barked at his teammates to get him the ball when he had it rolling. None of it was over the top and none of it was uncalled for. It just showed that an extremely talented player understands what steps he needs to take and wants to be as good as he can possibly be.

Point guards emerge in Vegas

When Rivals.com arrived in Las Vegas for the Pangos Spectacular, hopes were high that a group of point guards would play well. In particular, the hope was that 2015 five-star Tyler Dorsey, 2014 four-star Josh Perkins and 2014 three-star Tra Holder would be as good as advertised, if not better.

As it turned out, all three exceeded expectations.

The highest ranked of the trio, Dorsey is a 6-foot-4 lead guard from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco who checks in at No. 8 in the class of 2015. When it mattered most, the Belmont Shore standout was at his best. He can run the show as a big, athletic scoring point guard, or he can slide off the ball and be very dangerous as a scorer off the wing. Whenever Dorsey is on the court, good things happen with the ball in his hands.

Checking in at No. 42 in the 2015 class, Josh Perkins is actually more talked about nationally than he is locally. A product of Denver (Colo.) Regis Jesuit, the 6-foot-2 Perkins is a pure point guard with good size, very good handles and even better floor vision. Perkins has not had many opportunities to test himself against some of the better point guards in the class of 2014. If he can play at the same level he did in Las Vegas at places such as the Pangos All-American Camp and NBPA Top 100, then Perkins has a chance to work his way into the top five at his position nationally.

When the rankings were updated about a month ago, we thought we were so smart for putting Tra Holder into the 2014 Rivals150. As it turns out, the decision was the correct one as the 6-footer from Brentwood (Calif.) Academy is definitely worthy of being ranked. However, we better not break our arms patting ourselves on the back because he should be ranked a bit higher than No. 137 overall. Holder has made a strong case to be elevated to four-star territory and now has offers from places such as USC, San Diego State and Florida State, with more high major offers on the way.

Hamilton and Victor step up

At each of the weekend's stops, we were able to check out a forward who we had some questions and potential worries about. In Duncanville, we were eager to see Craig Victor of New Orleans Elite. While in Vegas, we wanted to see the development (or lack thereof) of swingman Daniel Hamilton. We're happy to report that they both had plenty of positive answers.

Standing around 6-foot-8 and ranked No. 24 nationally, Victor is a slender combo-forward who hasn't grown much since breaking onto the scene two summers ago. A bit of a 'tweener, Victor is a good athlete who can run and has a good base of skills. At the Exclusive Run, Victor debuted a more filled-out frame and a high-running motor that hasn't always been there. He was a force on the glass and played with intensity throughout the weekend. He reminded me of a young Donny Marshall, who enjoyed a terrific career at UConn before playing five seasons in the NBA.

Hamilton, on the other hand, comes from an outstanding basketball family and has been raised to be a scorer. The 6-foot-6 wing from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco is highly skilled, can handle the ball, and has a good-looking jumper.

But he also struggled a bit when we watched him as a junior as he has a penchant for making the easy play hard. Playing with Belmont Shore in Las Vegas, Hamilton played a stripped-down and more efficient game. There were no wasted dribbles, and no difficult step backs when the pull-up jumper is right there.

Dropping him to No. 28 in 2014 was a mistake as he's more than likely going to be given a fifth star eventually.



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